Christian Horner says that Sebastian Vettel has apologised to Mark Webber and Red Bull for disobeying team instructions in Malaysia.
Vettel was told to hold station immediately after coming out of the final pit stop behind his team mate, but instead continued to fight for the lead. Horner admitted that the situation was not ideal for the team.
“We’ve conducted a debrief and I’ve spoken to both drivers,” said Horner. “And Sebastian has apologised to both Mark and the team. So we’ve conducted our debrief as we usually do, and now we focus on the next race.
“At the end of the day in a situation like today you have a position from a team, which is clear, which is from our position to maximise the points from a team point of view from that last pit stop to the end of the race. From our point of view as soon as that pit stop was complete, Mark was ahead, it was very close on the pit exit, but as far as we were concerned it was a matter of managing the tyres to the end of the race. The tyres we’ve obviously been marginal with all weekend and last weekend, and the instruction was given to both cars effectively to hold position.
“At that point Sebastian has obviously chose to ignore that. The interests of a driver compared to the interests of a team are different, and he’s focussed on the eight point difference between a win and second, the team is focussed on the 43 points, and for us it didn’t matter which way round it finished, we just want to close the result off.
“Obviously it wasn’t right what he did, he accepts that. I think he’s clearly said if he could wind the clocks back he wouldn’t do it again. That’s the way it is. That’s the way it is. We need to put it behind us, we need to move on, it’s not like it hasn’t happened before, it’s not like it wasn’t happening just behind us.”
Horner has some sympathy with both drivers: “We employ these guys because they are competitive, because they do push each other, because they are very driven individuals. If either one was submissive to the other it’s not part of what we want in a racing driver. So of course it’s uncomfortable for the team, a situation like that. We managed to convert the 43 points, and it shouldn’t mar what was a fantastic team performance today.”
Horner said that Vettel told the team he hadn’t understood the position, although the team boss made it clear that he felt Vettel had chosen not to hear it.
“He felt that he hadn’t heard the call and it was unclear to him what the instruction was. But then again we had just the same in Brazil the other way round so these things happen.
“He’s obviously chosen to hear what he wants to hear. He’s a race driver, he’s hungry, he hasn’t achieved the championships that he has by not pushing the limits. He’s pushed that today with his team mate and his team.
“They’ve never been the best of mates, they’re never going to spend Christmas together, but there is a respect between the two of them, and I’m sure with a little bit of time to reflect, we’ll quickly move on from this.”
Asked if the team could have told Vettel to give the lead back, he said: “Do you honestly think if we’d told him to slow down and give the place back he would have slowed down and given it back? There’s no point. He’d made it quite clear what his intention was by making the move. He knew what the communication was, he had the communication, he chose to ignore it.
“He put his own interests beyond what the team’s position was, he was focussed on those eight points difference between second and first place. It was wrong and he’s accepted it was wrong.”